New Non-surgical Treatment Option Helps Our Body to Heal Itself
PRP, or "platelet-rich plasma", is an exciting new non-surgical treatment option being utilized by many physicians in the sports medicine community. It became well known after Pittsburgh Steelers stars Hines Ward and Troy Palamalu credited PRP for enabling them to play in the 2009 Super Bowl. PRP is now commonly used for treating a variety of injuries in athletes at the collegiate and pro levels.
PRP works by utilizing our bodies own platelets. Platelets are specialized cells in blood that function in clotting but are also rich in healing factors. They play a crucial role in injury healing. PRP utilizes the healing factors in platelets to activate the bodies own natural healing process.
The treatment is done by drawing a small amount of blood from the patient and then spinning it down in a special centrifuge which separates the platelets into a concentrated layer. After numbing the location, these concentrated platelets are then injected using a musculoskeletal ultrasound to guide the needle directly to the affected area. Often the doctor will make many passes with the needle in and around the injured area which, along with the healing factors from the PRP, act to jumpstart the healing process. Because we use lidocaine to numb the area, their is usually minimal pain during the procedure and it takes about 40 minutes from start to finish.
Although PRP has become a popular treatment option for athletes, PRP is now being used to treat non-athletes as well. Many people suffer from chronic tendon problems such as tennis elbow, achilles tendinitis, patellar tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. This new treatment may be a great option to treat these problems. Because it is utilizing the bodies own healing process, the pain relief has a much better chance of being long lasting.
In addition to tendon problems, PRP is proving to be helpful in normal wear and tear arthritis. Many are getting significant pain relief and as a result are able to increase their activity levels and quality of life. It may be a great option to consider for those suffering from arthritis, especially if other treatments have failed and the patient is not ready for surgery or if surgery is not an option.